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Top Cat! Jaguar XJ

Top Cat! Jaguar XJ

Few cars have quite the brand cachet and presence of the Jaguar XJ. This stately saloon was first produced in 1968 under the direction of Sir William Lyons, founder of Jaguar. The general styling direction continued until 2009 when the X351 model was launched and Jaguar went radical on the XJ. Slit eyes and digital displays took over from the quad headlamps and curvy, buttressed design of yore. The vehicle is produced in Birmingham, and since 2014 has been produced from CKD kits in Pune, India.

 

Exterior

Long wheelbase or short, the Jaguar XJ looks long, low and prowling much like the cat on which the brand is named. Slit eyes give it a sinister look and the overall silhouette is one of agility. Our SWB version looks well-proportioned on its 19-inch wheels that are wrapped in 275-profile rubber at the rears. At the rear, a clean and simple design replete with twin tailpipes completes the impression, and what an impression it is! The car looks particularly regal in the white shade of our tester. A long-wheelbase variant sitting in the showroom didn’t look out of proportion either; the difference in wheelbase is a mere 125mm that is well disguised unless you park the two side-by-side. Make no mistake, the SWB still measures 5.1 metres in length.

 

Mechanicals & Technology

The XJ rocks a 2.0 litre in-line four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Hailing from Jaguar’s “Ingenium” engine family, the tiddler puts out a grown-up 237bhp at 5,500rpm and 340Nm of torque at 4,000rpm that feeds the rear wheels through an eight-speed auto box with paddle shifters. The engine features a pair of balancer shafts for reduced vibrations and smoother power delivery. Suspension is double wishbone at the front and multi-link at the rear with air springs, while braking is via ventilated discs all round. Use of aluminium construction means the kerb weight is an impressive 1,660kg, a full 185kg less than a 3.0L diesel V6 variant, and on par with the kerb weight of cars one class below.

 

On the technology side, it’s got Jaguar’s adaptive dynamics which read vehicle parameters up to 500 times a second and adjust them according to the driving situation. Adaptive cruise control uses microwave radar to monitor conditions ahead and accelerate/decelate as required. There is also intelligent stop-start technology on offer.

 

Driving Experience 

Settling into the electrically adjustable, ventilated seat is very easy. Once you are cocooned inside the XJ, the length and width simply melts away and you have good visibility all round (except at the rear, where the three headrests do intrude a bit). The long-travel throttle is easy to modulate and the XJ just wafts off in normal or eco modes with nary a complaint. Push a little harder and you hear a distant hum from the engine while the big cat scampers off smoothly. The driving position is low-slung and that wrap-around dashboard makes you feel you are in something smaller. Then, you look in the rear-view mirror and realize this is a luxo-barge, not a two-seater.

 

The XJ is a comfort oriented car, with a slightly firmer orientation on the suspension with the result that you and your passengers feel the road underneath, rather than simply glide over it. It’s not uncomfortable and translates to some rather nice handling when you do decide to push a bit. The four pot can push the XJ from rest to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds but does so in such a smooth and discreet manner that you feel it through the speedometer rather than in the small of your back. The XJ is one of those few cars that can be appreciated from the driver’s seat as well as the rear, and I had a lot of fun with it. It is a car that encourages you to drive smoothly but not slowly.

 

Living with it

You enter a cabin where almost every surface is leather, wood or metal (chromed, usually). You really have to seek for any significant plastic areas before you find them. Even the cubbyholes are trimmed in soft felt-like material. Of course, the choices on colour, material type, etc…are entirely with you, dear buyer. So, explore that option list like a candy (or liquor) store, especially if budget is not a big constraint. Panoramic sunroofs, 26-speaker 1300watt Meridian sound systems…all at your disposal for the necessary dough.

 

On the toys side, our tester had dual zone climate control (four-zone is optional), a 14-speaker 380-watt Meridian sound system that sounds pretty damn nice to put it lightly, heated and cooled front and rear seats (massage seats optional), twin sunroofs (although only the front one opens), soft-close doors and everything you can think of is electrically assisted. Even to open the passenger side cubby, there is no ungainly handle to pull, only a touch-sensitive nub that releases the cubby when you touch it. You can control the climate system, entertainment, navigation, seat ventilation and car settings through the central touchscreen interface, or through the steering wheel buttons.

 

For those tycoons with luggage, the XJ’s boot can swallow 520 litres which is pretty decent. There are a few points that belie the model’s age – the relatively low resolution of the central touchscreen is one of them. But these are minor niggles in a cabin that once settled in, few will want to get out of.

 

Safety 

The XJ is loaded to the hilt with things meant to keep the humans inside in good condition. The aluminium bodyshell is chemically bonded and riveted to provide maximum strength and stability, it comes with a parking aid system. There are at least eight airbags including those inside the front seats, and the system detects the weights of the driver and front passenger and pre-tensions the seatbelts accordingly. Anti-whiplash headrests can move forwards to follow the neck in the event of a crash. Even pedestrian safety is taken into account as the XJ can slightly lift its bonnet on detecting a pedestrian impact to avoid contact with the hard engine parts beneath.

 

Fuel Economy & Price

Fuel economy? Ha ha ha…who talks about that at this level. I wouldn’t be surprised to expect around 6-7km/l or less in Colombo, but outstation and highway jaunts should easily break the 10km/l mark. With an 82-litre tank you can go quite far without needing to refuel too often. Price? It is from 30 million for the SWB and 37 million for the LWB. If you see it like paying 30 million for a 2.0 litre engined car, you are looking at this like looking up the digestive tract from the exit. Your 30 million buys you an experience in solitude, luxury and decent driving enjoyment that just happens to be propelled by a 2.0 litre engine, which gives you an environmental benefit as well as a fuel benefit over its larger engined brethren (if this is a company car and you are the Financial Controller, this will be of interest). Warranty is five years or 150,000 kilometres, including servicing.

 

Final Words 

There are very few cars that I have tested that have had the same impact on me as the XJ. It feels complete and friendly, and has that British sense of luxury about it too. I was expecting the 2.0litre engine to feel inadequate and was proved wrong. I really enjoyed my time with it and it has grown on me within that short period of time. Thus, I’m giving it five stars. Would I have one if I could? Hell yes!

The Other Cats

XE – Smallest Jaguar but most tight and composed handler. Engine adequate for the purpose and cabin is a nice place too, but do explore that options list please! Starting noises and turbo whine are nice, but it’s pretty tame on the outside. Rear space is alright and boot holds 455L.

XF – The wild one of our test, the XF crackles, pops and roars when you explore the rev range. It’s the sportiest and corners almost as well as the smaller XE, while sounding great inside. Slight turbo lag gives way to proper pace as the revs rise. The cabin feels more special too and rear space is good. Boot holds 505L. My favourite (almost level to the XJ), purely due to the driving pleasure that the XF gives, encourages you to engage sport, kick that pedal down and drive it like a bank robber!

F Pace – Jag’s first SUV and its pretty good. Diesel has plenty of low end torque and is revvy, but makes a fair bit of noise that I felt could be hushed up (our daily diesel LandCruiser driver Avinda Perera found it just fine, so its subjective). The F-Pace handles more like a car than an SUV. The cabin is different from those in the Jaguar car range, and you really should take a trip down that options list and spec it up a bit more, or it can be a little spartan. Legroom was good too, and the monster boot swallows 650L!

Tech Specs

Engine

2.0 litre, 4-cylinder 16 valve

Turbocharged

237bhp @ 5,500rpm

340Nm @ 4,000rpm

 

Transmission

8-speed automatic

Paddle shifters

Rear wheel drive

 

Suspension

Front – Double Wishbone

Rear – Integral link

 

Brakes

Front – Ventilated Disc

Rear – Ventilated Disc

 

Wheels & Tyres

19inch alloy rims

 

Performance

0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds

Top speed 240km/h

 

Misc

Length – 5,130mm

Width - 1,899mm
Height – 1,460mm

Kerb Weight – 1,660kg

Fuel Tank - 82L

Boot Space - 520L